NDreams's Patrick O'Luanaigh on why you should be supporting both Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR

Discount mobile VR at your peril

NDreams's Patrick O'Luanaigh on why you should be supporting both Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR

Patrick O'Luanaigh wants to end the snobbery directed towards mobile VR.

Taking the stage at Pocket Gamer Connects London's Future Visions: VR and AR track, he makes his position immediately clear: developers should support both Gear VR and Google Cardboard.

O'Luanaigh refers to Superdata research suggesting that mobile will lead the way in VR in the immediate future, boasting nearly 80 per cent of the market share.

Backing the right horse

"Google Cardboard isn't a bad experience by any means, just simpler. It's designed to be the entry point, the first experience of virtual reality," he says.

While his clear message to all developers is that, when possible, you should make games that support both headsets, O'Luanaigh does offer some comparison between the two.

Google Cardboard apps are still within the wider Google Play store, making for a storefront dominated by free-to-play and with little discoverability extremely difficult. On the plus side, good VR experiences in that store are harder to come by.

The Gear VR storefront, on the other hand, offers curated content and is dominated by premium games.

"It's a lot easier to be discovered on the Gear VR, but there's much more competition as top mobile developers shift into VR," he explains.

Why choose?

So, what easy steps can VR developers take to support both devices? O'Luanaigh suggests standardised inputs, such as gaze, rather than relying on Bluetooth controllers that may be incompatible with low-end headsets.

It's often suggested that Google Cardboard is designed for shorter VR experiences, with its notable lack of any strap, but O'Luanaigh's data has suggested otherwise.

While the average mobile game session length is around the six to eight-minute mark, metrics from NDreams' mobile VR games reveal average playtime of 10 to 20 minutes.

"It's not a snackable thing, you don't snack on VR games."

Either way, O'Luanaigh's message is clear: discount mobile VR at your peril particularly the Google Cardboard - that low price-point and ability to give away in large numbers means sudden spikes in user numbers are not unprecedented.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.


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Jung Gull
There is a huge difference between the Cardboard Experience and Gear VR. But..... in all reality Gear VR Experience for those who really dive into it head first is better than the Hardwire Tethered Desktop PC w/ Expensive GPU and all the additional purchases requited!

Main difference of course is that if YOU really want to look like a clown..... and all consumed VR player, you get a backpack for a $3000 Gaming Notebook Computer, HD Battery Pack, external head tracking gear, VR Gloves, Chest Pack Butt-kicker transducer, etc and you wear in the shopping center mall to show off it's portability! xD

Just so Cardboard and Gear VR users have something to laugh back at. Seriously though..... even Palmer Luckey is worried about Oculus for PC doing as well as Samsung Gear VR is doing right now as the most portable 3D VR Experience available!

But........... the extremely ignorant Wall Hugging PC users will point out that Gear VR has no built in positional tracking. He also points out some other actually misgiving about Gear VR. Mainly because he knows the Full PC VR experience will eventually loose out to Future Samsung Gear VR devices and accessories coming in the FUTURE!!!

He doesn't want to admit this simple fact here; Many 3rd parties had solved the lack of positional tracking problem for Gear VR ages ago. Right now Gear VR is the only way you can experience riding a long board (skateboard) in an open space totally untethered to any wall sockets.... Heavy Backpacks.... Eternal Tracking Cameras.... with full positional tracking. Meaning you'll never be able to experience this on a PC or Game Console 3D VR HMD headset hardwire tethered anywhere except with a mobile VR setup!

Oculus..... PC and Game Console 3D VR now really has no advantage. Since what works on Oculus will be obviously ported to Gear VR. Not only that..... but SAMSUNG has been working with Devs to bring an even better experience to Gear VR. There are rumors that coming projects include not only Fully Positional Tracking..... by using the Phones camera, will include both 3D VR and .

Accident avoidance by tracking and mapping an environment is being worked on right now by Samsung. HTC is using a different method for their VR HMD. But the results will be similar. Only HTC 3D VR relies on hardwire tethering too...... anyway to a PC!!!

And don't forget this fact; When Oculus first launched they had no tracking sensors whatsoever. Instead they were using Microsoft's Kinect for that. Their original screen was an older AMOLED from Samsung's Note phone. BUT.... Kinect was based on the same technology Samsung's now CEO of THINK TANK TEAM had introduced at a 2008 TED Talk MIT project. That Project is of course Pranav Mistry's SixthSense Motion Sensing.

Which included both Google and Samsung with Microsoft sponsoring Pranav's Motion Sensing Technology with sensors made in Israel in Kinect. So Pranav after already having started work on GEAR VR for Samsung (patented in 2012/2013 along with his patents on smartwatch round ringface control). Which made it easy for Samsung to make a deal for using Oculus's upcoming 3D VR technology and the new Note AMOLED screens w/ SixthSense Motion Sensing Tech.

Screens that will naturally get better as they move to 4 and 8k!